An Evening at the Army
With Cannons and Cornets They Come
Combining two celebrated musical organizations–one a brass band and the other a 60 voice choir — with all the intricacies of production staging, massive video screens, laser light shows, exploding cannons and a strong Christian message was the challenge of NAOC’s Saturday evening program.
The Pasadena Tabernacle Songsters, led by William Flinn, were joined by The International Staff Band, under the baton of Bandmaster Stephen Cobb, to present “An Evening at the Army.” While not a typical Army evening program, it captured all the musical talent of both organizations, all the color, fire and joy of Salvationism, and sent the 2,500 member audience home with a strong challenge to carry the light of Christ wherever they go.
“The Evening at the Army program sought to showcase Salvation Army music making and a Salvationist’s committment to a world-wide ministry,” Flinn said.
Out of complete darkness, a single soprano voice came through with the haunting lines from the prophet Isaiah: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” a Len Ballentine arrangement of the “Godspell” melody. As lights gradually illuminated the stage, the Songsters, in full uniform, swelled the melodic line. The group then moved into the powerful hymn “God of my Praise.”
Songster Barbara Allen assumed a hostess role and provided the NAOC delegates with some background of the Army’s ministries within corps programs as a videotape presented aspect of corps life and worship. Three songsters were introduced on video screens at their places of work and at home–each offering a rationale for their involvement spiritually with the Army. They were proud to be “Standing on the Promises,” the old hymn which closed the segment.
Allen then introduced Cobb as the large video screens provided the audience with a sightseeing tour of London, with special emphasis on the ISB role. A large scrim flew above the stage revealing the full band, which then favored the crowd with “Folk Festival” by Shostakovich and the beautiful, original ISB arrangement of “Keep Me Praising.” Both of the evening’s soloists, David Daws, cornet, and Derick Kane, euphonium, were introduced by videotape which portrayed them at work in their home corps, and with the ISB. Both played Norman Bearcroft solos. Daws revealed complete mastery of the instrument with his rendition of “Golden Slippers,” while Kane flawlessly presented the challenging “Better World.”
As the scrim descended, the songsters introduced their Americana segment wearing bright red warm-up suitsand marching in singing “Yankee Doodle Medley.” They were accompanied by the Pasadena Tabernacle Singing Company, led by Martin Hunt. It was a grand flag-waving time. Songster Ed Pollock reminded all of America’s heritage of old spirituals with “Swing Low,” and an American video travelogue accompanied the group “from sea to shining sea” with “America the Beautiful.”
Once again the ISB took over the stage with Kevin Norbury’s “Gaudete.” The Pasadena Tabernacle Timbrels, led by Sharon Docter, joined the band as it introduced a program segment designed to present Christ as the light of the world. Barry Gott’s “Lightwalk” led off. This was followed by an original music-video designed to urge all to “Shine as the Light.” From a darkened stage, Julie and Paul Jennings presented the powerful dramette “The Abyss” followed by the Songsters’ presentation of “Through it All” and the ISB’s moving selection “‘Mid All the Traffic of the Ways.”
Tabernacle Corps Officer Major Chick Yuill then challenged the audience to look within and explore the extent each carried the Light with them to illuminate a darkened world. The segment ended with each member of the audience “lighting” and waving a “candle” as the Songsters sang “Carry the Light.”
Flinn then reminded the audience that the Army doesn’t want the devil to have “all the good tunes” — or rhythms–or styles–which led to the Songster’s final item–a gospel version of “The Hallelujah Chorus.” The reprise ending was accompanied by cannon shots and exploding confetti.
Standing ovations greeted both groups, and the ISB concluded the evening with Wilfred Heaton’s march “Praise.”